In most every area of life, there’s a seeming perpetual second fiddle; someone or something that while garnering a certain amount of acclaim is always viewed as the poor man’s version of whoever, or whatever, is the high profile high roller. This happens a lot in music, where an artist in a given genre no matter their skill or accomplishments is usually written off with a “well, he/she/they is/are okay, but he/she/they will never be as good as so-and-so.” Some artists acknowledge this fate; veteran British mellow progressive rockers Barclay James Harvest self-depreciatingly titled one of their songs “Poor Man’s Moody Blues.”

Keeping with the music theme, various instruments also fall into this perpetual silver medalist category. There are many superb pianos out there, but none have the allure of a Steinway; there are many superb violins, but none have the cachet of a Stradivarius. In a more down to earth category, namely the electric guitar, while the Gibson Les Paul is revered and rocked by players great and small, the Gibson SG is usually relegated to the that’s-nice department, often with a “so you couldn’t afford the real thing, huh?” smirk aimed its owners way (a new standard SG costs $1,650 less than a new standard Les Paul).

The SG was born out of, hard though it may be to believe given the Les Paul’s omnipresence, necessity when in the early 1960s Gibson was faced with a dilemma: no one was buying Les Pauls. Some rethinking and reengineering was called for, with the SG being the result. The SG’s body was noticeably thinner than the Les Paul, with some strategically located beveling incorporated for greater player comfort. Away went the maple top on a mahogany body that was the Les Paul’s normal wood selection; instead, the body was all mahogany. The neck was moved further away from the body, allowing easier access to the upper frets although much to Gibson’s chagrin it became rapidly apparent they had gone overboard as the neck-to-body joint was notoriously weak (this was corrected in the mid 1960s). Electronics and hardware were essentially the same, but the SG’s substantially different construction resulted in a somewhat less bright, more rounded tone than the Les Paul along with less sustain. Gibson discontinued making the Les Paul after 1960, introducing the SG in 1961 initially under the Les Paul name. The real Les Paul — yes, Virginia, there was a man named Les Paul who was a monster guitar player and guitar building innovator — was decidedly nonplussed with the new guitar and requested his name be removed from it. Which happened, the guitar being renamed the SG for solid guitar. Apparently no one at Gibson had any naming ideas that week.

Should one be inclined to peruse music video and concert footage from the 1960s, a fair number of SGs will be spotted. Eric Clapton played one boasting, sort of, a psychedelic paint scheme durin his time with Cream. Pete Townshend of The Who routinely played (and demolished) SGs during the late 1960s and early 1970s. However, the Les Paul was rediscovered during the 1960s, leading Gibson to reintroduce it in 1969 at which point the SG was relegated to “and we still make these too” status.

While the Les Paul is synonymous with rock royalty — Jimmy Page from Led Zeppelin, Duane Allman, Slash from Guns ‘N Roses, etc etc etc etc etc and a few dozen more etc after that — given how the two guitarists most commonly identified with the SG are Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath and Angus Young of AC/DC, the SG is more commonly associated with underworld pretend deity. Its pointed body tips are oft referred to as “devil’s horns.” Given how the SG is nine times out of ten finished in a medium to dark cherry red, I prefer to think of them as the tips of angel’s wings dipped in the blood of the martyrs. A simultaneously more lofty and sobering identifier.

I own a SG. It’s my favorite guitar to play. With the proper technique you can make it sound good for multiple musical genres, including country, in addition to the blues and rock with which it is normally associated. Does it have the almost unlimited sustain of a Les Paul? No. But it has its own unique, warm sound and you can hold a note for a decent length of time. It’s a dream to play, with low string action and its light weight helping you focus on the music alone rather than wondering if there’s a chiropractor in the house slinging a Les Paul over your shoulder for any length of time suggests.

The SG will never have the panache of a Les Paul. It will never be a status symbol or trophy guitar. Rather, it modestly exists for the sole purpose of enabling music creation.

Which, after all, is the idea behind any musical instrument.

This is one of those “to tell the story I first have to tell you this story” posts, so please bear with.

During the early months of last year (February, to be precise), I posted a lengthy dissertation on my personal blog about my favorite guitar and its assorted adventures since coming into my possession a few years ago. Said guitar is a 1976 Gibson Les Paul Deluxe, which as noted in the aforementioned post is pretty much the absolute low end of desirability among electric guitar players/collectors in general and Les Paul aficionados in particulari. This holds firm even with the Les Paul being rivaled only by the Fender Stratocaster in terms of popularity among six-string gunslingers. Nevertheless, it is my instrument of choice.

In my case, I bought my Les Paul off of ebay (some hard-earned wisdom when it comes to guitar buying and ebay: don’t mix the two). It arrived sorely in need of some tender loving care, which after being applied transformed the guitar into a genuinely superb instrument despite all the slagging said model, made during said time period, usually receives.

Although it seems impossible given how you cannot find a rock’n’roll band of any stripe from the past forty-five years without a Les Paul being close at, if not in, hand, there was a time when Gibson dropped it from its product line due to years of steadily declining sales. Throughout nearly the entirety of the 1960s, not a single one was built. It was only in 1969 that demand created by the Eric Claptons and Jimmy Pages of this world among others reached a sufficient level for the guitar’s reintroduction, and even then haltingly; it would be two decades before new ownership both rescued Gibson from imminent demise and brought the Les Paul back in anything close to its original, highly prized form. How highly prized? The ones made from 1957 to 1960, after which production was halted, routinely command six figures, often with a crooked number leading the way.

Which leads from this story to the story, namely A.J. Delgado.

Ms. Delgado was, until the end of last year, a longtime member of conservative new media’s upper echelon. The daughter of Cuban immigrants, Ms. Delgado was an established lawyer before she started routinely gracing assorted high flyer publications and becoming a regular guest on political television. In last year’s Presidential election – which, by the way, is still over – she threw her support to Donald Trump, going so far as to directly work for his campaign. It was during this time period she met a man who also worked for the campaign, and as happens (not excusing it, just stating the facts) an office romance ensued. Yes, the man was married, but he swore to Ms. Delgado that he and his wife were separated. It later became apparent the man’s interpretation of what entails being separated from one’s spouse was quite different than the norm, as when Ms. Delgado informed him she was unexpectedly expecting, he responded with, “So is my wife.” Awkward.

After dropping a few quite unsubtle hints about what had been/was going on, Ms. Delgado went silent on social media for several months while most everyone who had feted her just weeks before dropped her like a hot potato. No more writing gigs. No more television appearances. It got to the point where a now thoroughly unemployed Ms. Delgado was forced to move in with her mother. She recently gave birth to a son, and has now re-emerged on social media talking not politics, but personal matters related to being a new, single mother.

A third element now enters the story, that being a story in and of itself: Jesus and the woman caught in adultery. When you read John’s account, note that there was no question of whether the woman was being falsely accused. She was guilty. The penalty for adultery under Mosaic law was being stoned to death. The law called for both guilty parties to be stoned to death, but apparently the man involved in this affair was either considered insufficiently guilty or was deemed inadequate for this exercise’s primary purpose which had nothing to do with following the law. It was an effort to trap Jesus in His own words. Say let her go, and Jesus would be violating the law. Say stone her, and all of Jesus’ words about forgiving sin and such would be exposed as hollow rhetoric. Let’s see you get out of this one, carpenter boy!

Jesus, rather than responding, said nothing; instead (depending on which translation you read) stooping over or sitting down on the ground and beginning to write in the dust with His finger. What He wrote was not recorded. Most theologians and such over the ensuing centuries have surmised Jesus was writing down a list of the sins committed by the would-be rock chuck gang. Could well be. Could also be He was writing, “Get ready to be disappointed, boys; you’re about to get the first and last word in mic drop a couple of thousand years before there are any mics to drop.” At this point Jesus stood up, said His famous few words about whoever was there that was without sin could go right ahead and start turning the adulteress into a miniature quarry, and resumed his writing as the crowd one by one dropped their stones in more ways than one and walked away, eventually leaving only Jesus and the adulteress.

Jesus, doubtless thankful that Richard Rosenblatt and Ritchie Cordell had not yet written “I Think We’re Alone Now,” asked what to the woman most likely seemed like a bizarre question: where are your accusers? Has no one condemned you? She stifled the temptation of responding, “Uh … don’t you see there’s no one here? Why are you asking me the obvious?” Instead, she replied with a simple, “No, Lord.” Presumably she had heard of Jesus before this moment; He was the talk of the nation. Perhaps she had even heard Him speak, or heard one of His disciples when Jesus sent them out to evangelize. Perhaps not. Nevertheless, even in her utterly terrified state – remember, just a few minutes before this moment she was going to be brutally executed – she realized the Man before her was far, far more than just another itinerant preacher. Jesus had done what no mere man could have done. He had saved her life.

Jesus then said, “Neither do I (condemn you). Go and sin no more.” Mull this over for a moment. Jesus neither condemned the woman for her actions nor condoned them. Instead, he offered mercy and grace accompanied by a stern warning: leave your past life behind. No more adultery. You should be dead right now. Instead, this is your chance to begin life anew. Don’t blow it. (It has long and often been surmised the woman was Mary Magdalene, who would later reappear in the Gospels, but there is no hard Scriptural evidence for this either yea or nay.)

By now, the logical conclusion is, “Ah-HAH! He’s comparing the story of Jesus and the adulteress to A.J. Delgado’s story!” Actually, no, although it does serve a purpose of illustrating why people should lay off the judgmental junk. The real comparison is between Ms. Delgado and the Les Paul guitar in general, my Les Paul Deluxe in particular.

Like the Les Paul, Ms. Delgado’s glory days, if you will, came before she went offline to focus on her new role as a single mom. Like the Les Paul on its first go-around, Ms. Delgado was shunned. Like my Les Paul Deluxe, since her reentry into the public realm Ms. Delgado has been considered as quite the lesser to her former self, having had an affair with a married man and having birthed a child out of wedlock. This time last year she was the hot hand, the prominent feature. Now, she changes diapers in solitude, the cameras and clamor having long departed.

It is easy to say Ms. Delgado is reaping what she has sown, thus eliminating the need to extend any of that love, grace, and mercy stuff. Sure, give her credit for not murdering … er, aborting her son when it would have been all too easy to do so, deny all rumors of an affair, and carry on with everything as before. Other than that, forget about it. And her.

There is another option.

One could try the neither condoning nor condemning tack. You know, what would Jesus do. Or, in this case, did. He offered the adulteress a fresh start, bringing her back literally from the brink of death and telling her you have another chance; don’t throw it away by throwing yourself into the wrong man’s arms again. He offered her grace and mercy. All she had to do was accept it and, going forward, walk with Him figuratively by her side, following His teachings and allowing herself to be transformed by His love. You know … like my Les Paul Deluxe when it was properly treated, changing it from a somewhat battered and thoroughly unwanted relic to something of immense value. At least to me. And certainly Ms. Delgado is of infinitely greater value than any guitar.

So what do you say? Maybe extend the same love, grace, and mercy to her God has extended to each of us? Maybe send her some encouraging words and lift her up in prayer? Maybe, just maybe, acknowledge that in devoting herself to her son Ms. Delgado is doing something of great value, something that deserves a tip of the cap to the person doing this thing?

C’mon. We can do it.

Let’s do it.